Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Mischievous Orchard

For the third year in a row, Ashley, Kaleigh and I went to the apple picking festival in Ellijay Georgia.  I really enjoy the trip we have taken each each.  It is great to see how much Kaleigh has grown from year to year and it is a great reminder of the memories I have with my mum taking me to the apple orchard.  I am not sure I appreciated it at the time but looking back, they were really great experiences.

On the drive up, Kaleigh and I had some great conversation about the concept of mischief.  We talked about the fine line between trouble making / lying and mischief.  We talked about good mischief and bad mischief.  It was really interesting to see how curious she was about it.  Personally, I think is anyone is going to talk with a child about the potential benefits of mischief, it should be me.  As both a child and an adult, I have gotten into my fair share of mischief and I feel I might be a qualified expert on the issue.

This year, for Ashley and Kaleigh, it was much of the same.  We watched some silly dancing on stage, played in a jumping house like thing, pet lots of farm animals, walked around seeing the sites (including the store), watched compassionate bee caretakers talk about the importance of bee survival, and of course, picked apples!

While in the orchard, Kaleigh and I jumped at the chance to cause a little mischief; we made sure to sample a number of apples before picking from the trees.  You have to make sure they are worth putting in the bag!

As with our tradition, after leaving the orchard, we went to Amicalola Falls State Park.  There is a nice walk through the woods (where Kaleigh and I got into mischief by climbing on rocks in the water) and after climbing 175 steps, you get to see the actual falls.  Amicalola is such a nice falls, always pounding water and it is massive.  It is also the starting point for most folks who are going to hike the Application Trail.

The apple festival trip is always a highlight in my autumn.  I hope that as Kaleigh gets older, she looks back on these trips she took with her mom with the same fondness I do.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Wordless Wednesday!

Wordless Wednesday!

Tofu with Sweet Chili Sauce

BBQ Seitan

Famous Fries

S'mores Cookies

Soy Chikin

Simple Salad

Monday, September 24, 2012

New England Shepherd's Pie

As fall creeps into the Atlanta area, I get to start eating heavier foods without feeling gross about it.  Comfort foods in the fall are a favorite of mine.  I am fairly heavy handed in the kitchen and falls leave me open to go for bold flavors.

Last week I made a quick batch of seitan to use in a shepherd's pie.  As a New Englander, shepherd's pie is a staple.  Every crummy diner you hit along the coast of route 1 from Rhode Island to Maine is going to have a shepherd's pie on the menu.

It is a very comforting food for me, reminds me of Maine.  In fact, my vegan version is better than any other version I can recall from my childhood.  It is a nice rich, heavy dish that combines the sweet and the savory.  Not to mention, it travels well for my work meals!

Friday, September 21, 2012

I am a Bean Man!

As a child, I never really ate beans.  We occasionally had canned baked beans but that was the extent of my bean eating.  After going vegan in 1998, I still had not much experience with beans.  I still ate a lot of canned (vegetarian) baked beans but other than that, I was bean free.

At my daycare as a young child, they used to make us eat lima beans.  I hated them.  I have never had them since, although I would guess they were poorly prepared and I may like them now.  I think I assumed that all beans were like lima beans, dry, slightly slimy, and gross.

The past few years I began to slowly get into eating more beans.  Mostly from a can and generally only in a burrito.  Slowly I have venture out of the proverbial can and really begun to go bonkers for beans.  I have been soaking my making my own beans for awhile now and I can not image all the amazing dishes I dodged with my pseudo-bean phobia.

Recently I have been making my own refried beans to take to work with me.  They are quick, easy, tasty, and travel well.  Toss to avocado or mango on it and it is fantastic.  I love the flexibility of refried beans, I can cook them with so many things to bring out different flavors.  With Vegan MoFo coming up, I may post a nice refried bean recipe.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Bringing it back!

I have been revising a lot of older recipes of mine recently.  There have been some really delicious dishes that I want to go back and have again instead of working on newer things or the same-old same-old.  I really like the variety that foods offer but sometimes you just want that one outstanding bowl of tempeh corn chowder that you had a year ago.

After some cold symptoms and a pulled back, I have been feeling much better.  Quality rest and food go a long way.  It never ceases to amaze me that how you eat has such an impact on how you feel yet so many people eat so poorly.

Vegan MoFo is next month.  This year, I made sure to get on the actual blog roll.  Last year I dropped the ball a bit and missed the deadline.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Cracking the Gingers: A Dinner Party

I often have spoken on dinner with the Cracks (Adrienne and Nate of Crack the Plates) and most readers of this blog know who Ashley and Kaeligh are but interestingly enough, they had never met.  Bound to correct this oversight, we made a dinner plan, for all 5 of us.  My house, 630pm on Friday.

I made chickin nuggets using a variation of my basic seitan recipe (how to) upon request from the Cracks.  Seitan seems to be a big hit with them, it is fun to make so I generally oblige.  These were marinated overnight then double breaded and deep fried for extra crispy goodness.

As requested by the Gingers, I made brocoli and cheeze soup.  Kaleigh has been on the lookout for a good 5 year old friendly cheeze soup an Ashley thought this would do the trick.  I rarely make this dish so it was a special treat.

I also made some cabbage and mashed potatoes.  Kaleigh mashed the potatoes by herself while Ashley helps fry the nuggets.  My back has been hurting so I was trying to take it as easy as I could.

After dinner, Adrienne, Kaleigh, and Ashley built a fort in my livingroom while the boys stood in the kitchen and talked shop (dorky card games and RPGs).  I decided at the last minute I would whip up some chocolate chip cookies for everyone.

All in all it was a good night.  Nothing like spending time with good folks and eating good food.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Evenings out

I have been trying to get out of the house a bit more when I have time off.  My motivation has been low but I have forced the issue and felt better for it.  Even if much of the time, I am simply going to Ashley's house and spending the evening there.  It is at least out of the house!

We have been eating mostly quick foods when I have been there but one afternoon I made some on my mum's homemade pickles for the neighborhood kids.  Kaliegh really liked them but her friends turned up their noses and ran off mumbling something incoherently southern.

One of the evenings we took Kaleigh to play laser tag.  We got in two rounds of child shooting fun before we had to leave.  It was great fun, and Kaleigh had a great time.  This might be becoming my new thing, strangely it is a nice stress reliever.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Laura Visit; Day 3: Dulce Vegan and more

 After Ashley got out of work, she picked up Kaleigh and met Laura, Terri, and I at my house.  We were going to lunch at Dulce Vegan.  I had only been once before, when they first opened and was a little underwhelmed.  It was good but the portions seemed small for the price.

This experience was night and day.  The sandwiches were quite filling and the prices were reasonable.  The food was also fantastic!  I had a Tempeh Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato sandwich.  Some folks at the table got the Eggplant Parmesan sandwich.  We also got cinnamon rolls.  All of it was outstanding.  Kaleigh really liked the cinnamon rolls.

After Dulce Vegan, we went to the park for a bit and then went to Southern Sweets for more treats!  We were determined to get all the good food that we could.

Later that afternoon it was off to work for me.  Laura and Terri took themselves out to eat at Soul Vegetarian.  When I got home, there was a surprise for me!  Laura had made me her famous peanut butter balls!

Early the next morning, I took them to the airport and said my goodbyes.  It was sad but I will see my good friend again!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Laura Visit; Day 2; gorging with revolution and dough

Laura, Ashley, Terri, and I got an early start on the following day.  We headed out to my new favorite spot, Revolution Doughnuts.  We ate so many doughnuts that we were all barely moving when we left.  After hitting up the doughnuts, we went to downtown Decatur where the farmers market and book expo was in full swing.  It was pretty crowded and we were all a bit uncomfortable from the fried dough in our bellies so we just walked and browsed.

We were on an eating mission, so the next stop was a new one for all of us.  Dough Bakery.  Jamie works there so she was able to make us some sandwiches and sit with us for a few minutes.  We split a couple of sandwiches between the 4 of us and I grabbed a soymilk shake for the road.

I went to work later that night but Ashley, Laura, and Terri went out to eat for dinner.  Another trip to Green Sprout.  When I got home from work, it was right off to bed since we had another early day of eating on Sunday!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Laura Vist day 1: A Ginger, a Bezil, and a Rubik Cube...

 Friday we got a late start but Laura and her friend Terri piled in the car for a busy day.  We first went to Cafe Sunflower (where Laura worked for a couple of years) for lunch.  I have personally never been a huge fan of Cafe Sunflower but Laura wanted to go.

I had Pad Thai and was told I needed to share a few bites.  Begrudgingly I did so, despite someone not sharing their dish with me!

After lunch, I dropped them off at the Georgia Aquarium.  They were swimming with the fish.  I got some errands done, headed home and waited for Ashley to get out to work.  We were all going to dinner and then have a board game night.

For dinner, we went to Green Sprout, a favorite of mine.  I had some portobello beef and basil dish.  It is a great dish but I do not get it often enough.  We also got some drumsticks and stuffed zucchini to share.

After dinner, we waddled out nearly all of us in a food coma, and headed back to my house.  We sat around or a bit waiting to digest some food.  Laura has mastered the Rubik cube and was showing Ashley how to do it.

As we broke out the board games, Laura let us all know that she would like to try my s'mores cookies.  I knew I had to make them as soon as Ashley's ears poked up at the mention of the treats.  Who am I to fight a house full of people demanding cookies?

Monday, September 10, 2012

Company Incoming!

As always, when I get back from a vacation work is non-stop for a few days.  My hours get concentrated into some very long days at the jobby job, not to mention needed to catch up with Real Estate business.  Luckily, I only allowed a few days of chaos before I planned for another weekend of fun for myself.

To kick off the weekend, I went to lunch with my good friend Shazia.  She has been in Florida for awhile but is back now and I am happy to see her again.  We went out to Noodle and had some nice lunch and good conversation.

I had actually forgotten that I had eaten there a few times before and even once with Shazia.  Shazia had some discount thing on her phone and we ate dirt cheap!

Later that evening Ashley, Kaleigh, and I went to see a movie and then to Maddio's for dinner.  We did and errand or two and then I was off to pick up my long time friend Laura from the airport!  She was coming to stay for the weekend!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Maine Trip; Day 11: The lake and headed home

My mum, Cait (sister), niece, nephew and I went to Lake St. George early so that we had time to spend the day before I needed to be back at the airport.  We pack up some peanut butter and jelly with some chips and we were on our way!

We were actually the first people at the lake and it was nice to have the run of the place.  Slowly, people started to arrive.  This is another place that has changed quite a bit since I was a child.  There is now a nice playground, a gazebo and new picnic tables, not to mention steps to get into the water.

Shortly after lunch, my mum and I headed out to the airport.  Cait and the kids stayed for awhile longer.  A few hours later, I was arriving back in Atlanta.  The end of my trip.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Maine Trip; DAY 10: return and dad

Before dropping off the rental car, I went to see my other sister, Nikki.  She lives near-by and I was able to see her for a couple hours before meeting my mum to return the car.  We chatted about new occurrences in our lives while tap dancing around issues that we avoid discussing.  My niece and nephew got home in time for me to see them as well.

After returning the car, my mum went back to work for a few hours while I relaxed at her house and played with the dogs.  That evening, I used her car to drive out to see my dad again.  We sat in the yard and talked for awhile.  Then I made a quick dinner, Spanish Rice.  We used some of Sue's home-made salsa that she has been jarring.  It was actually quite a tasty meal.

After a nice evening, I headed back to my mum's.  We made some plans for early the next day and I had a flight back to Atlanta that next evening.  It is always nice to see my family and I was getting sad my trip was coming to a close.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Maine Trip; Day 9; Westie!

After two days in Old Town and then a day in Boston, I was looking forward to a light day on my random Thursday.  I rode around town, looking at how all my old hangouts had changed.  The Gardiner boat landing used to be a fairly skummy place that my friends and I spent many late nights at.  It has been totally rebuilt and is quite a nice place now.  I do miss the skum though....

That evening I took a trip to Portland to see my old friend Westie.  He and his girlfriend Amanda, made dinner, alfredo pasta with some bread, tofu, and a sleak salad.  Westie has been vegan for nearly as long as I have.  We have a long history of making some crazy meals together.

After dinner, we walked around Portland talking for a bit.  Needing to get back to Augusta for an early morning car return, I headed north.  It was great to see Westie, meet his girlfriend and I even got to see his brother, Tubby Tim!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Maine Trip; Day 8: Boston

I set out early in the morning on Wed for my sisters house just north of Boston.  I have not seen my sister, Nomi,  in about 4 years and since then she has adopted 3 children with her wife, Kari. 

When I got there, two of the kidfs were at summer camp while the youngest was at home.  My sister, Nomi was sick on the couch.  We talked a bit when the kid took a nap and then headed out to Kickass cupcakes to pick up her CSA.

Kickass had a vegan cupcake which I snatched up for a bedtime snack that night.  After getting the CSA, we headed to the park for a bit before picking up the other two kids.  Once we got back, Nomi napped and I played with the kids until Kari got home from and made dinner.  I left shortly after dinner.  It was nice to meet my new nephews, I even brought them some CDs.

Before leaving Boston I decided to make one last stop, despite not being hungry.  Grasshopper, an old hang out of mine always brings back memories.  This is where all the punk kids go for vegan food after shows.  I can not count the number of times I have been there.  It has been a few years but nothing has changed, including the menu where I got my old favorite, Tofu Chickin Fingers in Sweet and Sour Sauce.